Written By Thomas Ahearn
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed into law Senate Bill 365 (SB 365) to help rehabilitated offenders successfully re-enter society by removing barriers to employment and making it easier for employers to hire ex-offenders, reduce recidivism and create jobs. The text of SB 365, which also offers protection for employers hiring ex-offenders, is at http://gov.georgia.gov/documents/sb-365.
“The incentives and re-entry programs included in this legislation are cost-effective strategies that will increase the number of former offenders returning to the workforce and supporting their families,” Georgia Governor Deal stated in a press release available at http://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2014-04-13/governor-signs-third-leg-criminal-justice-reform.
The new law requires the Georgia Board of Corrections to create and implement a “Program and Treatment Completion Certificate” to assist adult offenders with re-entry into society upon release from prison. In order to earn the certificate, the offender must complete any required treatment plan and vocational training while in prison and comply with any re-entry plan while on probation or parole.
For employers, SB 365 states that they can demonstrate due diligence when hiring ex-offenders that earn this certificate, providing them a certain level of immunity from negligent hiring and retention claims liability when hiring an ex-offender who has received the certificate or been granted a pardon by the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
SB 365 also provides judges with the discretion to deviate from the automatic license suspension for minor drug offenses only when the drug offense was not directly related to the operation of the motor vehicle and is contingent upon the offender’s completion of any and all treatment programs.
“This legislation strikes the proper balance between opportunity and accountability. Along with the previous two phases of my criminal justice reform, this law will pay dividends to taxpayers and improve the quality of life for all Georgians,” Georgia Governor Deal stated in the press release.
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